Soyuz Light to Debut, Angara Reaches Pad & RD-0146D Testing Advances

Modle of the Soyuz-21.v launch vehicle. (Credit: Pavel Kolotilov)
Modle of the Soyuz-21.v launch vehicle. (Credit: Pavel Kolotilov)

There is some good news to report out of Russia about two delayed launch vehicle development programs.

The Soyuz 2-1v light launch vehicle has been scheduled for its first test flight on Dec. 23. Meanwhile, the first prototype of the Angara rocket has made it to the launch pad at Plesetsk more than 18 years after the Russian government approved the program.

In related news, engineers have conducted nearly 70 test firings of the cryogenic RD-0146 upper stage engine, which is intended to fly on later versions of the Angara launch vehicle as well as the Proton rocket.

Spaceflight Now reports that the Soyuz 2-1v rocket will launch the student-built AIST microsatellite and SKRL 756 calibration spheres on its inaugural mission scheduled for two days before Christmas.

The Soyuz 2-1v is a light version of the venerable rocket. Four booster strap-on booster rockets have been removed, and the first-stage engine has been replaced with NK-33 engines left over from the Soviet manned lunar program.

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GenCorp Completes Acquisition of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne from UTC

pratt_whitneySACRAMENTO, Calif. (GenCorp PR) – GenCorp Inc. (NYSE: GY) announced today that it has completed the acquisition of substantially all operations of the Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne business (Rocketdyne) from United Technologies Corporation (NYSE:UTX). GenCorp will combine Rocketdyne with Aerojet-General Corporation (Aerojet), a wholly-owned subsidiary of GenCorp, and the combined businesses will operate as Aerojet Rocketdyne, Inc., headquartered in Sacramento, California.

As part of the Rocketdyne transaction, GenCorp will acquire UTC’s 50% interest in the RD Amross joint venture following receipt of Russian regulatory approvals.

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FTC Approves GenCorp’s Purchase of Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne

pratt_whitneyWASHINGTON (FTC PR) — The Federal Trade Commission has closed its investigation into the proposed acquisition of rocket engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne by aerospace company GenCorp Inc.  Although the FTC concluded that the deal will give GenCorp a monopoly in the market for a type of advanced missile defense interceptor propulsion system, the Commission decided not to challenge the transaction, primarily because the Department of Defense wishes to see the transaction go forward for national security reasons.

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Pratt & Whitney Reaches J-2X Milestone

CANOGA PARK, Calif. (PW&R PR) — Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne successfully completed the last hot-fire test on the J-2X powerpack — an important step toward development of America’s next rocket engine designed for human spaceflight.  NASA has selected the J-2X as the upper-stage propulsion for the Space Launch System (SLS), an advanced heavy-lift launch vehicle.  Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is a United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:UTX) company.

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Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Lays Off Employees

With the end of the space shuttle program, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne needs fewer employees:

About 100 employees at Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, most of whom work in the San Fernando Valley, were laid off Wednesday in response to dwindling government spending on space exploration, the company said.

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UTC Creates New Aerospace Systems Unit with Goodrich Acquisition

United Technologies Corporation has created a new UTC Aerospace Systems business unit by acquiring aerospace parts maker Goodrich Corporation and combining it with UTC’s Hamilton Sundstrand Space Systems, which has been making spacesuits, life-support equipment and other components for America’s space program for nearly 50 years.

To finance its Goodrich acquisition, UTC has agreed to sell Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne to GenCorp (owner of Aerojet) for $550 million. The company will also sell its Hamilton Sundstrand Industrial unit to BC Partners and The Carlyle Group for $3.46 billion. The industrial unit manufactures highly engineered, mission-critical pumps and compressors for the global industrial, infrastructure and energy markets.

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Boeing Gets $175 Million to Adapt Delta IV Stage for Space Launch System


Despite NASA paying Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne $1.2 billion to develop the J-2X upper stage for the new Space Launch System, the space agency will use modified Delta IV stages on the first two flights of the new heavy-lift booster.

The price tag? A cool $175 million. The beneficiary? Boeing. And, curiously enough, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne.

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Aerojet Parent GenCorp to Buy Rocketdyne for $550 Million


SACRAMENTO, Calif., July 23, 2012 (GenCorp PR) — GenCorp Inc. (GY), headquartered in Sacramento, California, announced today that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR) from United Technologies Corporation (UTX) for $550 million.

“We see great strategic value in this transaction for the country, our customers, partner supply base and our shareholders,” GenCorp Chief Executive Officer Scott Seymour said. “The combined enterprise will be better positioned to compete in a dynamic, highly competitive marketplace, and provide more affordable products for our customers.”

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Is Paul Allen Buying Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne?

Paul Allen

Here’s an interesting bit of news from Aviation Week:

United Technologies Corp. (UTC) is expected to complete the sale of its Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne rocket propulsion arm within the next two weeks as part of efforts to raise $3 billion to help finance its acquisition of Goodrich Corp….

The group believed to be most strongly linked to the acquisition is thought to involve Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, former Scaled Composites CEO Burt Rutan and former NASA administrator Mike Griffin. The three are behind Stratolaunch Systems, the company founded in late 2011 to develop a next-generation, mobile, airborne launch system based on a hybrid aircraft formed from two Boeing 747s (Aerospace DAILY, Dec. 14). Another board member of Stratolaunch is Dave King, vice president of Dynetics, the Huntsville, Ala.-based company that will be responsible for integration of the launch vehicle and carrier aircraft systems.

It’s a bit of a puzzle why they would be purchasing PWR if they’re using Space Falcon rockets for Stratolaunch. A possible explanation is that they have other projects in mind that would use the company’s expertise.

We’ll follow this story and let you know more as information becomes available.

Read the full story.

Dynetics, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Partner for SLS Booster Work


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Dnyetics PR) –
  Dynetics and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR) announced here today at the National Space Symposium a long-term partnership to compete for the NASA Space Launch System (SLS) Advanced Booster Engineering Demonstration and/or Risk Reduction (ABEDRR) procurement. Under this agreement, Dynetics and PWR are exclusive partners with respect to use of the proven Saturn V F-1 rocket engine technology.

“The SLS booster procurement requires a team that can balance affordability, innovation and experience throughout the life cycle – from development to production and operations,” said Steve Cook, Dynetics director of space technologies. “Dynetics and PWR have formed such a team, offering a wide-ranging set of risk‑reduction activities and demonstrations that enable a superior booster solution.”

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UTC Puts Prat & Whitney Rocketdyne Up for Sale

HARTFORD, Conn. (UTC PR) —In a meeting with investors and analysts, United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX) today updated its financing plan for the proposed $16.5 billion cash acquisition of Goodrich Corp. (NYSE: GR), including expected proceeds of approximately $3 billion from net divestitures and $1.5 billion from mandatory convertible instruments.

UTC businesses identified for sale include Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Clipper Windpower and the Hamilton Sundstrand Industrial businesses: Milton Roy, Sullair and Sundyne. These businesses are treated as held for sale and have been moved to discontinued operations in UTC’s financial statements. Gains realized at the time of closing are expected to be greater than impairment charges in discontinued operations.

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Awesome Video: Boeing Crew Capsule Escape Motor Firing

Video Caption: Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne has completed a series of hot-fire tests of the 52,000-54,000lb-thrust Bantam demonstration engine for a”pusher” launch abort system on Boeing’s CST-100 spacecraft, under design for NASA’s Commercial Crew Development program. The motor “pushes” the spacecraft to safety if a launch is aborted. The tests were conducted in the California desert.

Boeing CST-100 Abort Engine Successfully Tested in Mojave Desert

Boeing's CST-100 crew transport. (Credit: Boeing)

CANOGA PARK, Calif., March 12, 2012 (PR&W PR) — Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, a United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX) company, successfully completed a full-mission duration hot-fire test on a Launch Abort Engine (LAE) for Boeing’s Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft. The CST-100 spacecraft, designed to transport people to the International Space Station and other low-Earth orbit destinations, is in development under NASA’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program.

The Service Module and Integrated Launch Abort propulsion system is a critical system for safe, reliable and affordable commercial crew transportation.  It is designed to push the crew capsule to safety if an abort is necessary.  If unused for an abort, the same propellant load can be used for other parts of the mission, including re-boosting the space station orbit. The LAE test was conducted in the California desert.

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Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne Takes Shot at SpaceX


Engine maker Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne has taken what Florida Today correctly calls a “thinly veiled swipe” at rival SpaceX. The company has put out the ad above that includes a microphone on the left side under the words “Other’s idea of making noise” and one of the company’s success launches on the other with the word “Ours.” The text below the image reads:

While the other guys launch powerful press conferences, we power launches of people and critical payloads. In fact, we’ve powered 14 launches in 12 months with 100% success. While the other guys deliver press conferences, we deliver astronauts and important communication, science and national defense payloads. So, before you listen to their next promise, scan the tag and watch all 14 zero-fail launches. At FutureSpaceUSA.com.

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Mars Week on The Space Show


This week on The Space Show….

Tuesday, June 28, 2011, 7-8:30 PM PDT: We welcome back Dr. Robert Zubrin to discuss his Mars manned mission plans.

Thursday, June 30, 2011, 9:30-11AM PDT: We welcome Jim Maser of Pratt Whitney to discuss aerospace workforce issues for the United States. Mr. Maser has received significant press regarding his thoughts and comments on this topic over the past few months.

Friday, July 1, 2011, 9:30-11AM PDT: We welcome back Lucinda Land, Executive Director of The Mars Society to discuss Mars, the upcoming Mars Society Conference and more.

Sunday, July 3, 2011, 12-1:30 PM PDT: We welcome Grant Bonin to discuss his recent article in The Space Review about the efficiency of smaller rockets as compared to heavy lift rockets. You can read his article at www.thespacereview.com/article/1861/1.